Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Beyond Celiac 5K Series is Now Virtual

Beyond Celiac is taking its entire 2020 Step Beyond Celiac 5K series to the virtual streets with a multi-city tour for individuals and teams across the country to support celiac disease research efforts. Five event dates are planned between August and October. Join them for one or many with one-, three- and five-city tour options.

The Step Beyond Celiac 5K is a family-friendly event and fundraiser for Beyond Celiac. All participants are encouraged to raise funds by running or walking 3.1 miles either in the event cities or right where you are in support of research efforts for treatments and a cure.

Lace-up your running shoes, train, raise money, and run (or walk) a 5K (3.1 miles) to improve the quality of life for children and adults affected by celiac disease.

All participants receive a Step Beyond Celiac 5K shirt if they register before the t-shirt deadline.

The Philadelphia run will be between September 26 and October 3. Please join Team Gluten Free Philly at registration. Registration is $30 per person for one run, $75 for three cities and $120 for all five.

City Tour runs:

Boston –  August 9 – 16
Kansas City – September  13  – 20
Philadelphia – September  26 – October 3
Dallas – October 10 – 18
Denver – October 18 – 25

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Frozen Assets

Talia di Napoli's gluten-free Margherita pizza
Ever since our son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 16 years ago, we've been on a seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect frozen gluten-free pizza. His tastes have changed - from the personal pizzas made by Foods By George that he devoured in his younger years to the hard-to-find gourmet American Flatbread varieties that he discovered more recently. One constant is that the frozen pizzas - and for that matter, most of the ones available in restaurants - do not have a distinctive crust.

Until now, dear readers. Talia di Napoli's gluten-free Neapolitan pizzas are a game changer and have immediately become our son's new favorite. Recently featured in Food & Wine and the New York Times, the company imports both traditional and gluten-free pizzas hand made in Naples, Italy. The gluten-free versions are certified by Coeliac UK (less than 20 ppm) and the company's owner told me that they are produced on sanitized lines on days when traditional pies are not made, and baked in a dedicated wood-fired oven then flash frozen - known as a "sleeping" process. They have a real, airy crust that we haven't seen in any other frozen pizza. In fact, these pies rival the taste and texture of craft coal- and brick-oven pizzas sold at local pizza shops.

The gluten-free Primavera pizza from Talia di Napoli
Why the difference? The 11" gluten-free pizza base is made with buckwheat flour, rice flour and - yes - gluten-free wheat starch. The use of gluten-free wheat starch, which helps makes Talia di Napoli's gluten-free pizza unique, is more prevalent in European gluten-free goods than in the United States; Schar's gluten-free croissants and waffles sold in America are made with the starch. Given the word "wheat" in the name, consumers understandably may be wary of consuming products made with gluten-free wheat starch and, indeed, those with a wheat allergy or intolerance should avoid such foods. However, research has shown no evidence that foods made with gluten-removed wheat starch are harmful to those with Celiac Disease. You can read more about gluten-free wheat starch here, here and here and here. (Of course, consuming gluten-free foods made with this ingredient is an individual choice and I'm not here to twist your arm.)

Talia di Napoli rotates its offerings monthly, but the gluten-free Classic Pack ($95.99) includes four Margherita and three Primavera pies. All orders ship free to U.S. addresses. Yes, these cost more than your typical frozen pizzas but believe me: it's worth it. Promotions vary, but currently using GRAZIE15 will get you 15% off, TALIA10 will get you 10% off and this link will save you $5.

Make room in your freezer and buon appetito!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What's New For Passover 2020

While COVID-19 might prevent families from gathering in person to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Passover, they can still have seders virtually using Facetime and Zoom.

This year, Passover begins the evening of Wednesday, April 8 and ends the evening of Thursday, April 16. It's a time when many more gluten-free products are available at supermarkets. This grew out of the observance of certain segments of the Jewish population refraining from eating any wheat products during Passover. The packaging of many gluten-free products is expressly labeled as such, while others have a "non-gebrokts" notation. (As always, read the ingredient label before buying and consuming a particular item.)

I've been chronicling new gluten-free Passover items for many years (you can read prior posts here), and this year brings many additions to the Seder table. Locally, many of these products can be found at ShopRite markets, particularly the one on Route 70 in Cherry Hill (Garden State Pavilions) and Wegmans stores.

Kosher food manufacturer Kayco, which recently acquired the Manischewitz brand, will be introducing new gluten-free products under various brand names (you can find all of Kayco's gluten-free products here.) The best-selling gluten-free matzo brand, Yehuda, returns with Original, Everything, Egg, Onion, Unsalted and Fiber Enriched varieties. Yehuda also has gluten-free matzo meal, cake meal and crackers.

This year, there are several new products under the Manischewitz label, including gluten-free Sicilian-style pizza and cold-brew coffee and tea macaroons.



This year, also look for new Gefen-branded gluten-free granola clusters, in maple almond and honey pecan flavors.
Kayco also has gluten-free Passover rolls, made with potato starch.

Also check the frozen-food section of your local market for even more varieties of gluten-free Passover pizzas and pizza bagels, blintzes, knishes and other items.

About a week or two before the start of Passover, supermarkets receive their shipments of fresh gluten-free cakes and cookies from New York bakeries such as Oberlander'sLilly's Bake Shoppe and Schick's. Look for sandwich, black-and-white and rainbow cookies, cake rolls, decorative and layer cakes.

If you want to try "Mexican Coke" (made with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup), Passover Coca-Cola will be available in the Philadelphia area and other regions. Look for bottles with distinctive yellow caps.

Prices of some Passover foods tend to be higher than their non-holiday counterparts, so I suggest buying one of a particular item to see if you like it before stocking up. Keep an eye on Passover sections after the second night of the holiday, when markets tend to cut prices on whatever products are left.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo Returns on May 16


The 5th annual Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo on Saturday, May 16 is the premier area event for those with celiac disease or living a gluten-free lifestyle. There will be 80+ local and national vendor booths, as well as seminars, door prizes, samples galore, products for purchase and more. Spend a day in a gluten-free paradise as you learn, sample and experience new brands. Try and buy unique and artisan products and stock up on gluten-free goodies you can’t easily find.

The expo will again be held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Ave. - Hall C) in Oaks, Pennsylvania with free parking available. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, March 12, at noon Eastern.

TICKET OPTIONS:

VIP 9:45 a.m. EARLY ENTRY (limited availability)
$28.50 + fees (All kids 6 and over must purchase a ticket; 5 and under are free)
This ticket includes early 9:45 a.m. entry into vendor area, guaranteed goodie bag, and VIP area with exclusive VIP gluten-free samples and treats. VIP registration and VIP area with goodies opens at 8:45 a.m.

10:15 a.m. EARLY ENTRY (limited availability)
$18.50 + fees (Kids 12 and under are free)
This ticket includes early 10:15 a.m. entry into vendor area (45 minutes before general admission) and guaranteed goodie bag.

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. GENERAL ADMISSION
$10.00 + fees (Kids 12 and under are free)

Buy tickets online, or purchase by phone at 717-248-6741 M-F 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

General-admission tickets may also be purchased in person at The Happy Mixer in Bucks County beginning March 12 (VIP and Early Entry are online or phone only). VIP and Early Entry tickets sell out very quickly so the best chance to purchase them is to order online as soon as they go on-sale March 12.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Gluten-Free Education Evening at The Pop Shop Collingswood Set for March 31

Learn more about living gluten free deliciously at The Pop Shop's Collingswood, New Jersey location (729 Haddon Ave., 856-869-0111) on Tuesday, March 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will include a gluten-free buffet dinner, dessert by Bleu Bear Bakery, samples, coupons and more.

Yours truly will share tips for traveling and dining gluten free. Ravitz’s Family Market’s dietician, Ashley Cully, will offer advice and options for gluten-free shopping and cooking at home. All guests are encouraged to bring their favorite gluten-free recipes for a recipe swap.

This evening is excellent for people or caregivers with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and those who live with someone following a gluten-free diet.

Tickets are $26.95 per person and include tax and gratuity. Purchase them online at this link.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Step Beyond Celiac 5K Returns to Philly May 31

Lace up your running shoes, train, raise money and run (or walk) a 5K for research, education and early diagnosis of celiac disease to improve the quality of life for affected children and adults.

This year, the Philadelphia version of Beyond Celiac's Step Beyond Celiac 5K is scheduled for Sunday, May 31 at FDR Park beginning at 8 a.m. The event will raise funds to support research efforts and help the organization develop a global patient registry of people diagnosed with celiac disease who want to participate in research studies, including clinical trials.

All participants registered before May 1 receive a Step Beyond Celiac 5K shirt and post-race gluten-free goodie bag with treats and coupons from your favorites and some new-to-you gluten free organizations.

Early-bird registration (by March 31) is $30 and children 5 and under are free; use code 2FOR2020 and save $2.. Help me meet my fundraising goal by joining Team Gluten Free Philly at registration.

Friday, February 21, 2020

News & Notes: February 21, 2020


This month brings word of two new gluten-free breakfast cereals, for kids and kids at heart. Nature's Path has added to its Envirokidz line with Turtle Splash, a strawberry and chocolate flavored cereal. Post has a new variety of its famed Pebbles cereal that magically turns milk blue.


Woodchuck Hard Cider is releasing two new hard cider styles: Sippin’ Citrus and Mimosa. Sippin’ Citrus is a grapefruit hopped cider that pairs the juice of the common eating apple with grapefruit and cascade hops, while Mimosa features orange juice. Both styles are 5.5% ABV.

Sedona Taphouse has a wide selection of gluten-free food and drink
In Phoenixville, Sedona Taphouse (131 Bridge St. #5, 484-302-5714) has an extensive list of gluten-free menu items, from burgers to flatbreads, from crab cakes to chocolate cake. The kitchen's fryer is only used for gluten-free items like fries and the flatbreads are baked in a separate oven. There's also a dedicated pot for gluten-free penne. The bar has many gluten-free adult beverages, including Glutenberg beer and hard ciders. A second area location is coming to West Chester later this year at the 44 West Plaza development. The chain also has outposts in northern New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Connecticut, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The all-gluten-free Bleu Bear Market in Marlton (27 N. Maple Ave., 856-810-3456) will open its doors on Saturday, February 29 at 7 a.m. In addition to a full line of fresh baked goods, the market will offer made-to-order sandwiches, salad bar and much more. Meanwhile, Bleu Bear Bakery, the gluten-free bake shop in Haddonfield, has relocated from its original location on Kings Highway around the corner (14 Tanner St., 856-354-0006) to utilize the larger kitchen space there.

Speaking of expanding in South Jersey, Grubr Gluten-Free Kitchen in Medford, which sells prepared foods for pick-up and delivery, is opening a full-service cafe next door at 15 Jackson Rd. Grubr Sit & Eat is slated for an April opening.

Bhan Thai just opened a second South Jersey location in Marlton (1041 Rt. 73 S., 856-422-8424). The menu, which replicates the one at the original Mt. Laurel spot, notes many gluten-free options.

About half of the menu options at the recently opened Oori, a Korean fried chicken and ramen shop in Pottstown (2228 Pottstown Pike, 484-985-8071), are or can be made gluten free. All of the dry wings are gluten free, as are two of the wet varieties: sweet chili and white miso honey mustard. The wings are prepared with a rice flour/corn starch batter. Rice noodles can be substituted in several ramen dishes. Thanks to @glutenfreebebe for the tip.

Also in Pottstown, The Blue Elephant (152 E. High St., 484-949-9084) notes gluten-free choices on its Asian fusion menu. Be sure to request gluten-free modifications and preparation.

The Farmer & The Chickpea recently opened in Quakertown (1321 W. Broad St., 267-227-3895). The cafeteria-style restaurant lists gluten-free options on its menu, which rotates weekly.

Reader Corinna V. let me know that the oldest continuously operating inn in America, King George II Inn in Bristol (102 Radcliffe St., 215-788-5536), has gluten-free lobster bisque and crab cakes, among other items listed on the menu.

Peter McAndrews has reopened Modo Mio in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia (705 5th St., 267-239-2712) as well as Paesano's Philly Style, now in Fishtown (1429 Marlborough St.). Modo Mio has gluten-free pasta, while Paesano's will soon have gluten-free bread for sandwiches.

In Rittenhouse Square, Scarpetta (210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 215-558-4199) has an extensive gluten-free menu that includes pasta.

The adults-only Barcade in Fishtown (114 Frankford Ave., 215-634-4400) has gluten-free tacos, a house salad, deviled eggs, a pickle plate and several snacks on its current menu. A future location is coming to Center City at 1210 Chestnut St.

The Fairview, which recently opened in Fairmount (601 N. 21st St., 215-235-3500), has a dedicated fryer for fries and tater tots along with other noted menu options. Gluten-free hard cider and seltzer are available from the bar.

At the DECO Food Hall in Wilmington (111 W. 10th St., 302-300-4955), four of the pho varieties at Phubs are gluten free, as are the steak, chicken and shrimp rice and salad bowls.

Sweet Victory Bakery makes gluten-free bundt cakes, cupcakes,
cookies, pies and special-order cakes
Sweet Victory Bakery is a gluten- and dairy-free bakery based in Dublin, Pennsylvania. Owner Veronica hosts pop-up sales twice a month at 105 N. Main St. (Follow the bakery on Facebook for upcoming dates.) Her baked goods are also sold at area markets such as Kimberton Whole Foods, Altomonte's and other locations in Bucks County and Chester County.

Healthy Meals by Anna rotates its gluten-free options
twice a month
Chef Anna started Healthy Meals by Anna about a year ago, preparing gluten-free meals for delivery in the Philadelphia area and pick-up. Her menu changes bi-weekly and she also offers catering services. Orders can be placed on an a la carte or subscription basis.

Philadelphia Mead Well is the city's first modern-day meadery. Mead, known as honey wine, is gluten free. The meadery's tasting room, located in the Harrowgate section of North Philadelphia (3525 I St. - Unit 201, 267-454-5956), is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Upcoming area events include a gluten-free education dinner at The Pop Shop in Medford (1 S. Main St., 609-975-6888) on Thursday, February 27. The event includes a gluten-free buffet dinner, dessert by Bleu Bear Bakery, samples and coupons. Yours truly will share great information for traveling and dining gluten free. Ravitz Family Market’s dietitian, Ashley Cully, will offer advice and tips for gluten free shopping and cooking at home. All guests are encouraged to bring their favorite gluten-free recipes for a recipe swap. Tickets are $26.95 and include tax and gratuity (available here). Advance ticket purchase required.

CHOP will host its annual gluten-free education day on Sunday, March 1. Details and registration information are available here.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

With the always updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,800 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

CHOP Celiac Education Day Set for March 1


Each year, the Center for Celiac Disease at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia provides children with Celiac Disease and their caregivers a one-day, state-of-the-art multidisciplinary education program. The annual education day centers around the mission of the Celiac team at CHOP to promote community awareness by providing families with evidence-based lectures provided by respected experts within the field. This year, the event will be held on Sunday, March 1 at a new location - the Leonard & Madlyn Abramson Pediatric Research Center (3615 Civic Center Blvd.).

Both the clinical implications of Celiac Disease and the importance of adhering to a gluten-free diet, as well as future therapeutic treatments, will be discussed. Children in attendance are provided the opportunity to attend interactive age-specific lectures and to learn through play with CHOP's child-life specialists.

Registration for this event is free, but is limited to the child with Celiac Disease and one caregiver per family. RSVP online by February 27. On the day of the event, registration/breakfast begins at 8:15 a.m., and the program begins at 9 a.m. CHOP will offer complimentary gluten-free meals for lunch, and attendees can sample gluten-free products from several vendors.

Complimentary parking is available in the Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care parking garage (3500 Civic Center Blvd.). Bring your parking ticket to the registration desk for validation.

If you can't make it in person, the event will be live-streamed but registration is still required.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Celiac Center at 215-590-3076 or email Melinda Nichols.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Gluten Free Education Evening at The Pop Shop Medford

Learn more about living gluten free deliciously at The Pop Shop's Medford, New Jersey location (1 S. Main St., 609-975-6888) on Thursday, February 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event will include a gluten-free buffet dinner, dessert by Bleu Bear Bakery, samples, coupons and more.

Yours truly will share tips for traveling and dining gluten free. Ravitz’s Family Market’s dietician, Ashley Cully, will offer advice and options for gluten-free shopping and cooking at home. All guests are encouraged to bring their favorite gluten-free recipes for a recipe swap.

This evening is excellent for people or caregivers with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and those who live with someone following a gluten-free diet.

Tickets are $26.95 per person and include tax and gratuity. Purchase them online at this link.

Friday, January 17, 2020

News & Notes: January 17, 2020


Pepperidge Farms has introduced its first gluten-free cookies in the brand's 75-year history. The thin-and-crispy Butter Crisp and Milk Chocolate Chip varieties will be sold beginning this month at Target, among other outlets, retailing for $3.89 per package.

Whole Foods is closing its gluten-free bakehouse in North Carolina as of early March. If you like the market's gluten-free breads, pies, cakes and other baked goods, be sure to stock up before supplies run out.


Armageddon Brewing's cider and mead tasting room is opening in Somerdale, New Jersey (900 Chestnut Ave., Building J) on January 31. All of the craft brewer's beverages are gluten free.

Dim Sum Mania in Media (17-19 E. State St., 610-557-8757) notes gluten-free options on its on-premises menu.

Down the street, Noodii Thai Chef (42 E. State St., 610-892-8710) can make a number of dishes gluten free, as listed on its lunch and dinner menus.

Arepas are among the many fried gluten-free options at Que Ricas
Que Ricas, which opened last month in Westmont (46 A Haddon Ave., 856-858-8500), has a dedicated fryer for gluten-free options such as empanadas, plantains and yuca fries. The arepas are gluten free as well.

The menus at the new Stove & Tap in Malvern (245 Lancaster Ave., 484-450-8890) list gluten-free choices and the kitchen has a dedicated fryer.

Malvern is the home of the area's first Bomba Taco + Bar (30 Liberty Blvd., 610-727-5253). Bomba, which is a sister restaurant to King of Prussia's Paladar Latin Kitchen, has a gluten-free menu, though there is a shared fryer. A second Pennsylvania location is opening this summer at The Village at Newtown.

In Atlantic City, all of the meats at Bourré Cajun BBQ (201 S. New York Ave., 609-246-6670) are gluten free, as are several "bayou plates." Note, however, that there is no dedicated fryer for fries and wings.

Avocado toast at GET Cafe (PC: GET Cafe/Instagram)
GET Cafe, a community coffee shop in Narberth (246 Haverford Ave.), has a gluten-free toaster and panini press.

In Medford Lakes, smoothie and juice bar The Honey Post (20 Trading Post Way, 609-451-5156) has gluten-free granola for its fruit bowls and smoothies and gluten-free cones for frozen yogurt.

2nd Street Tavern in Lewes, Delaware (102 2nd St., 302-645-7755) has a gluten-free menu that includes appetizers, salads and entrees.

In Souderton, the menus at Northbound (2 W. Broad St., 267-203-8076) note gluten-free options.

Diana's Cafe in Center Valley (4907 Rt. 309, 610-797-2525) can prepare gluten-free pancakes and toast separately.

Davio's in King of Prussia offers gluten-free pizza
Davio's in King of Prussia (200 Main St., 610-337-4810) serves gluten-free pizza at lunch and brunch. The pizza is prepared in a dedicated area and cooked in a separate oven.

KQ Burger's Wynnewood location at Whole Foods (15 E. Wynnewood Rd., 610-896-3737) has a dedicated fryer for fried chicken, fries and tater tots, though no gluten-free buns.

Inquirer.com reports that Peter McAndrews is reopening his popular Modo Mio in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia (705 5th St.) soon, while relocating his Paesano's Philly Style sandwich shop to Fishtown (1429 Marlborough St.). McAndrews has long accommodated gluten-free guests at his restaurants, as members of his family have celiac disease.

Sprouts Farmers Market is opening at the Concord Mall in Wilmington (4801 Concord Pike) on March 11.

Recent area closings of note include Morton's The Steakhouse and Sweet Freedom Bakery in Center City Philadelphia, Oink and Moo BBQ in Voorhees, and the Bryn & Dane's locations in Malvern and Center City Philadelphia.

CHOP's Celiac Support Group will have its next meeting at the Bucks Specialty Care Center in Chalfont (500 W. Butler Ave.) on Sunday, January 26 from noon to 2 p.m. Parents should bring Super Bowl snacks to share. RSVP to the Celiac Center with the number of people attending.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

With the always updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,700 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Gluten-Free Road Trip: California Adventure

It had been more than 20 years since I was last in San Francisco (for a late-summer work trip) and all I remember from that time was having to leave the Giants game mid-way through because it was brutally cold. I should have realized I was out of place in shorts and a t-shirt when I noticed most everyone else wearing sweatshirts and pants.

Not that December is warm in California either, but I've always wanted to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and see more of the sights throughout the state. With the family's winter break schedules aligning, we were able to spend four days in San Francisco and the surrounding area last month before driving through Big Sur and ending our vacation in Newport Beach.

My takeaways: California is beautiful, expensive and extremely gluten-free and celiac friendly. Out of all of our meals, we had only one occasion where the restaurant (not mentioned here) provided us with bad information, which we were able to straighten out prior to ordering.

House-made gluten-free blueberry coffee cake
at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco
Our hotel in San Francisco, the Marriott Marquis, is within walking distance of the famous Union Square. I communicated with the kitchen staff prior to the trip and felt confident that our son would be able to eat breakfast at the M Lounge. The eggs and bacon were gluten free, as was the separately baked blueberry coffee cake. Each night, there were several gluten-free hors d'oeuvres at the lounge and on one occasion, the chef brought him a gluten-free dessert.

Among the amazing baked goods at Mariposa Baking Co.
are pain au chocolat and savory "hot pockets"
We spent time in San Francisco taking tours of Oracle Park (the home of the Giants) and Alcatraz and seeing the rest of the city via the on/off Big Bus Tour, which includes stops at Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and the Embarcadero. Our son had safe gluten-free meals at the all-gluten-free Mariposa Baking Co. in the famed Ferry Building and at Oriental Pearl in Chinatown (gluten-free dumplings and more). At the Ferry Building, you can also find sweet and savory options at Dandelion Chocolate, G.L. Alfieri Fruits & Nuts and Humphry Slocombe ice cream. Also look throughout town for the famous See's Candies, where every item is gluten free except for the candy canes. The company recently debuted soft and chewy red licorice medallions, which are extremely difficult to find in a gluten-free version.

C Casa in Napa is entirely gluten free
Nicholson Ranch was among the vineyards we visited in Sonoma
We took a day tour of Napa and Sonoma through Green Dream Tours, visiting three area wineries. For lunch, we stopped at Oxbow Public Market, home of the all-gluten-free C Casa taqueria and Gott's Roadside, which has gluten-free soft-serve ice cream.

On Christmas Day, we departed San Francisco and headed south, spending the evening at the Monterey Marriott. Monterey has its own Fisherman's Wharf, and we had dinner that night at Old Fisherman's Grotto. The kitchen was easily able to accommodate our son and - to his surprise - he was able to enjoy a slice of gluten-free double chocolate cheesecake, made with an almond crust.

The Big Sur region has incredible views
The redwood trees at Henry Cowell State Park
are among the tallest in the world
The next morning, we walked around Cannery Row in Monterey before departing for the gorgeous sights in Big Sur, the mountainous Central Coast region that offers amazing vistas. We stopped for lunch at Nepenthe, a 70-year-old cliffside eatery, where our son had soup and salad. We ended the day at the all-new beachfront Vespera on Ocean in Pismo Beach - one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed at. The house restaurant, Somerset Grill, had many gluten-free options for dinner (our son had the local salmon filet made with a tamari glaze) and the following morning at breakfast, including gluten-free granola.

No trip to California is complete without a stop at In-N-Out Burger, the West Coast chain that is extremely careful preparing gluten-free orders. Gluten-free options include burgers protein-style in lettuce wraps, fries and shakes.


As we headed toward southern California, we ran into the notorious traffic but plowed through past Los Angeles and spent two nights in Newport Beach at Lido House. This beautiful hotel in Orange County blends perfectly into the seaside town and offers bike and surfboard rentals, among other amenities. We rode bikes along the beachfront boardwalk on a perfect 62-degree afternoon. The house restaurant, The Mayor's Table, has a dedicated gluten-free toaster in the kitchen; one morning, the kitchen prepared our son toast with eggs, the next day, avocado toast. We had lunch at Malibu Farm Lido, along the waterfront in Lido Marina Village, and dinner in town at Wild Taco, which has a dedicated fryer for tortilla chips.

Flying American Airlines, we didn't have to look far from our departure gate at Los Angeles International Airport to find a safe gluten-free meal. Lemonade is a fast-casual chain with locations throughout California. Most salad and bowl ingredients are gluten free, as indicated by signage. There's even a packaged gluten-free s'mores brownie.

We love traveling west of the Mississippi, where the scenery and food are so different from the East Coast. I was glad to finally check off a bucket-list vacation and was even happier that we were able to enjoy nearly every meal without hassle.

For information on more gluten-free options in the San Francisco area, visit the Wheatless Wanderlust blog.